In the final leg of his journey, Pope Francis travelled to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.
Although sexual abuse of minors exists in many areas, Pope Francis said it is particularly serious when it occurs at the hands of a priest, whose vocation is to lead children toward God.
Annulment was designed for cases in which a marriage was forced, or the bride and/or groom was immature or mentally ill, he noted.
“Meeting them made me see once again how acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material”.
As the Popemobile neared, there was no ignoring ‘Baby Pope.’ Pope Francis spotted Quinn instantly and sent security to ferry her across the street to him.
Pope Francis has promised a new system to prosecute bishops who don’t adequately deal with abuse.
Francis also told journalists that while he is willing to forgive clergy who have abused children and young people, he understands why there are a few who find it hard.
On the last day of his stop in Philadelphia and his first visit to the US, Francis spoke to hundreds of thousands who crowded into the Benjamin Franklin Parkway area to listen to his words and hopefully catch a glimpse of him waving from his passing motorcade.
Pope Francis had recently set up a commission on sexual abuse that is comprised of victims, clergy, bishops, and lay experts who have offered various suggestions to the Vatican to address problems regarding this issue.
When they were finally face to face with the Pope, he said, “Are you the family who travelled from Buenos Aires?”
“I’m just excited to see everyone, Catholics from all over the world, all over the country, so on fire to see the Pope”, Joseph McCabe, a student at Villanova University from San Diego, said.
He said the trip was “beautiful” and summed up the welcome he received in the three cities of his tour by saying that in Washington the welcome was “warm but more formal”; in New York the people were “exuberant” and in Philadelphia they were “very expressive”.
He also met with jail inmates. “I think he is more about living by like Jesus than focusing on dogma”, she said in downtown Philadelphia while waiting for a papal Mass later on Sunday.
“We’re just so thankful to come back with the idea that you know what, we’re not all ideal, and we’re not all going to be flawless, so we can be imperfect together, which is really nice”, Julie Bauman said.
Francis said conscientious objection had to be respected in legal structures.